Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that the way Australia has been treating asylum seekers was inappropriate.
Zarif raised his concern over the treatment of asylum seekers, among whom thousands belong to Iran, during the wrap up of his historic tour to the Pacific and southeast Asia in Canberra on Wednesday. In his interview with the ABC’s Lateline, Zarif said that Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers is “unconscionable.” The recent decision of the Australian government to deport refugees to the Nauru detention centre despite knowing the inappropriate living conditions there might have been the reason for Zarif to point out the treatment of asylum seekers in Australia.
“We don’t like some aspects of the way Australia treats Iranians who have been basically lied to by human smugglers who come to Australia,” he said. “They live in unconscionable situations,” he added as quoted by the Sydney Morning Herald.
On Tuesday, Zarif said that Iran cannot force Iranian asylum seekers to leave Australia and return, but it has opened the doors for their voluntary return to their homeland. The attempt of Canberra to convince Tehran to take back Iranians to reduce the number of refugees in Canberra detention is a known reality. The World Bulletin reported that in 2015, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said that there were 8,000 Iranians in the nation’s immigration detention visas while many have been held in camps at Pacific regions.
“We don’t have any objection to Iranian citizens coming back to Iran voluntarily,” Zarif said following his conversation with Bishop in Canberra. “And we are working to allow them — enable them — to come back voluntarily. We cannot force anybody to come back to Iran but if anybody wants to come back voluntarily, we always take our citizens with pride.”
Whether it is the United Nations or Human Rights Watch, the way Australia decided to send asylum seekers to offshore detention centres has been criticised by every wee-wishing global authority.